Dornier 17 bomber heads to RAF Cosford after being lifted from watery grave

A unique Second World War bomber shot down during the Battle of Britain was today heading for the West Midlands following a painstaking, £500,000 recovery mission to pull it from the English Channel.

The last surviving Dornier 17 will undergo conservation work at the RAF Museum at Cosford following a six-week operation to recover it from the water which involved 50 specialists.

The German plane, known as Hitler’s ‘flying pencil’ because of its narrow fuselage, has been lying 50 feet under water off the Kent coast since it was shot down by the RAF in 1940.

But after several failed attempts it was finally recovered from the water at Goodwin Sands, near Ramsgate last night. Work has been ongoing all night to spray the plane to prevent its aluminium from corroding.

Official live updates on the Dornier operation

The port tip of the wing was still under water this morning but was expected to be recovered today, paving the way for it to be transferred by rescue barge to Ramsgate ahead of its journey to the Midlands.

It is hoped that it will be available for members of the public to view at Cosford from next week.

RAF Museum director general Peter Dye, said: “This incredibly complex and delicate operation was made possible by a dedicated team of museum staff, partners and associates who gave their time, money or knowledge to help us achieve this goal.

“We would like to thank all those involved as we embark on the second stage of the project and deliver the aircraft to our conservation centre at Cosford.”

It is hoped that the plane will leave Ramsage early this evening to begin its five-hour journey to RAF Cosford.


Special report on the lifting of the Dornier - See today's Express & Star

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Comments for: "Dornier 17 bomber heads to RAF Cosford after being lifted from watery grave"

Just Asking

How is it that England can shoot down a German war plane and then display it "trophy like" in a museum. Is this plane not the property of Germany? Have the RAF had to gain permission from the Germans to exhibit it, or is it simply finders keepers?

Just Asking

roger steven clarke

Do the Germans also get to keep all their unexploded ordnance that's ubiquitously scattered around the British Isles?

clive griffiths

Just asking ..... in reply, I would say that as a war baby (I am 71) and having as ababy been bombed by the Lufwaffe, the shooting down and retrieving enemy aircraft (in my humble opinion) is the right of the victims/victors, however many years have elapsed between the two events. I seem to recall that all the materials for the manufacture of German aircraft was stolen from countries they invaded and most of the manufacturing labour was enforced slavery, making your "ownership" comments inappropriate and rather peurile.

roger steven clarke

Seems to me that the long standing, highly revered and much excepted international law of finders keeper's applies here.


I would think salvage rights exist. To be honest if the Germans wanted it they probably would have tried to lift it themselves and if it's in UK waters asked permission to do so.

The RAF museum would not be displaying it 'trophy like'. This museum is dedicated to preserving aviation history for the benefit of all. This aircraft is a part of history, turbulent and horrific yes, but also a hugely important episode in World history.


Out of curiosity, I have not heard any mention of the crew of the plane. Have any remains been found? Given the assumed nature of the fatal landing I don't assume that they managed to bail - do we have any information on this, or will the lives lost in this incident be recognised in any way? (I'm thinking a service, wreath laying, or something of the sort...) It'd be nice if we remembered that much more than fascinating relic it's a reminder of the tragedy of WW2 and the many lives lost on both sides.


Apparently four crew members were rescued and the other two were taken as POWs, so there are no bodies in it thankfully.


The RAF Museum laid a wreath at the grave of the crewman who is buried in UK yesterday. the other dead crewman was washed up in Holland and is buried there. The other two crewmen who survived the crash became POWs.

lord chips

A waste of £500,000 to recover this piece of scrap... How much now is it going to cost to add some 2013 metal and fabric to this piece of junk... When you think of all our Vulcan bombers,and English electric lightnings that went to the knackers yard.... Makes me sick...


How can you possibly question the motive for recovering this so called "piece of scrap"? there are enough Vulcan Bombers and English Electric Lightnings on display, if you know where to look. This just happens to be the very last Dornier 17, and if you can't appreciate the historical value of that fact, then quite frankly you shouldn't have a say on this matter.

Ade Sharm

The Dornier 17 is a important find and it upsets me that people forget the people that fight for there flag. War is one item mankind could well do without. The history from this plane may one day may teach our children and future children how wrong war is. No matter where the people were born.


I just cannot understand the whole exercise, what a total was of money... Even when restored 80% will be new or added parts. What are we keeping here of any value ?


Lord Chips you are a fool!

It is because all the Dorniers wet to the knackers yard that makes this one interesting! This is real history and the £500.000 came from people that want to see it preserved!


This is the only existing example of this aircraft in the entire world, that's what makes it so valuable. I don't understand how anyone can fail to see that. Plus, as 'TRUE BRIT' pointed out, the funding for the project was provided by those who appreciate it's historical value and want to see the aircrat preserved whilst it was still possible to do so. Personally, I think it's a wonderful achievement and I can't wait to see it.

'Just Asking', it is not to be displayed as a trophy, but as a surviving relic - a historical artefact, for study and appreciation. It lay in British coastal waters. It has nothing to do with who shot it down.


'Just Asking'...are you serious ? On this basis perhaps any unexploded bomb dug up should be returned as belonging to Germany too ?! You, and the equally confused respondees moaning about a waste of money should recognise the historical value here....personally I'm saddened so many British heavy bombers haven't been preserved from WW2, and agree more recently planes, but the more that can, of both sides, the better. Having this as a living relic from the time surely brings to life and helps us better appreciate what our predecessors went through to defend these shores in order to ensure we didn't have to live a Nazi way of life (or death) like so many others...

lord chips

TRUE BIRT .... There's plenty more german junk in the sea as well,let's go and get some more.!

Alex Gilmor

Dont really know what the point in this is, the aeroplane itself is nothing more than a pile of rotten aluminium so I fail to see how they can restore it. To me its seems like a waste of money, even if it might be of some historical significance. It probabally would have been cheaper to build a working replica.

martin aspden

the do17 is just as important,as the halifax at brings home the reallity of war.i went to cosford,saw the work being done on the is important to remember the aircrews whatever side they were on,many flew because they wanted to,most in their teens.,the dornier should be placed alongside the halifax at hendon as atribute to those who fell,from both is the last of its type,well done raf museum.

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